"It takes a village to raise a child" and two villages to celebrate the graduation of approximately 450 Columbia High School graduates. The old African proverb has come to life in the villages of Maplewood and South Orange with an ongoing senior graduation project called Midnight Madness.
The idea for Midnight Madness started around 1984, when a small town in Maine decided to face the drunk driving epidemic and fatalities head on by sponsoring safe, drug- and alcohol-free events for its graduating seniors on the night when most drunken driving fatalities among teens are recorded. The success of the program was immediately recognized. Maine's program drew national attention and the idea was adopted by schools across the country, including Columbia High School.
Midnight Madness is CHS's version of the drug-and alcohol-free party for every graduate who wishes to attend. Students are spirited off to a secret location for the entire night. There they have an opportunity to just hang out or swim, play ball, dance, eat and participate in the many activities. This is done under the auspices of the CHS Home and School Association and is usually spearheaded by an intrepid group of volunteer parents, who arrange the event, raise funds and chaperone the students on graduation night. But it could not be done by them alone.
For 26 years the villages of Maplewood and South Orange have supported this celebration for CHS graduates. Pleased that the graduating students can celebrate in safety, several civic organizations have made tremendous donations to the event every year.
This year, the villages' participation has broadened to include small cans for spare change in more than 80 local businesses. Please drop your change in cans when you see them. Additionally, several local business owners have generously agreed to place special Midnight Madness fundraiser products in their stores. You will see soft brushed fleece red blankets, the cougar paw print car magnets and Monopoly-style board games of Maplewood and South Orange, like the board games that many welcomed when the lights went out with Super Storm Sandy.
For more information on how to support Midnight Madness, visit the HSA home page at http://www.columbiahsa.org/ and scroll down to Midnight Madness. Please do your part to support Midnight Madness if you can. Remember, it takes two villages.